Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Mobile

47% of Android Anti-Malware Apps Are Flawed

Protection failures come at a time when malicious Android software is becoming more of a problem.

Mobile platforms are not free from malware. That's why experts tend to recommend anti-malware protection for all mobile device users and platforms, assuming, of course, that the anti-malware software works. But new research on 21 Android anti-malware apps indicates this may be a very bad assumption.

Comparitech, which performs product reviews and comparisons, tested 21 separate anti-malware packages for Android and found 47% of them failed in some way. The protection software came from companies both large and small, with roughly a quarter coming from companies including AVL, ESET, Webroot, and Malwarebytes that also have desktop anti-malware products.

"We basically put test viruses on a bunch of Android phones and then ran them all through the various antivirus programs. Most of [the products that failed] just didn't see the virus," says Paul Bischoff, editor at Comparitech. A total of eight products missed the Metasploit payload used to test the anti-malware software: AEGISLAB Antivirus Free, Antiy AVL Pro Antivirus & Security, Brainiacs Antivirus System, Fotoable Super Cleaner, MalwareFox Anti-Malware, NQ Mobile Security & Antivirus Free, Tap Technology Antivirus Mobile, and Zemana Antivirus & Security.

The failures come at a time when malicious Android software is becoming more of a problem. Lukas Stefanko, a malware researcher at ESET who compiled data on malware found on the Google Play store, found that in the month of July, Google hosted 205 harmful apps that were downloaded more than 32 million times. The most common malware, and downloaded most often, was in the form of hidden advertising malware, with subscription scams downloaded next most frequently, followed by stalkerware.

As bad as the missed malware may be, Comparitech's report found three anti-malware apps that had more serious flaws — flaws that could actively endanger the privacy or security of the user. VIPRE Mobile, AegisLab, and BullGuard were each found to have critical issues.

VIPRE Mobile, for example, could leak users' address books to attackers because of poorly implemented access control. The other apps had critical issues, as well. Comparitech reports it disclosed these vulnerabilities to the vendors during testing and that all have been patched, with the patches verified through additional testing.

According to Bischoff, one critical lesson from Comparitech's testing is that organizations should perform their own tests before deploying any mobile anti-malware in the field. In addition to testing for basic efficacy, "You also need to take into account whether the apps are tracking you," he warns.

He points out that some antivirus companies have been known to track user devices and be very aggressive in refusing to cancel subscriptions or change licensing terms. "There are a lot of things that an enterprise should take into consideration, whether it's performance or whether they want their employees to be tracked by a third-party company through the app," Bischoff says.

Privacy and security are, after all, two different things, he points out. "Even though these apps protect you from malicious attacks, they don't protect you from themselves," Bischoff says.

Related Content:

 

Black Hat USA returns to Las Vegas with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions, and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

 

 

 

 

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
7 Tips for Infosec Pros Considering A Lateral Career Move
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/21/2020
For Mismanaged SOCs, The Price Is Not Right
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  1/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
IT 2020: A Look Ahead
Are you ready for the critical changes that will occur in 2020? We've compiled editor insights from the best of our network (Dark Reading, Data Center Knowledge, InformationWeek, ITPro Today and Network Computing) to deliver to you a look at the trends, technologies, and threats that are emerging in the coming year. Download it today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How Enterprises are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
Organizations have invested in a sweeping array of security technologies to address challenges associated with the growing number of cybersecurity attacks. However, the complexity involved in managing these technologies is emerging as a major problem. Read this report to find out what your peers biggest security challenges are and the technologies they are using to address them.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-16029
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-26
A vulnerability in the application programming interface (API) of Cisco Smart Software Manager On-Prem could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to change user account information which can prevent users from logging in, resulting in a denial of service (DoS) condition of the web interface. Th...
CVE-2020-3115
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-26
A vulnerability in the CLI of the Cisco SD-WAN Solution vManage software could allow an authenticated, local attacker to elevate privileges to root-level privileges on the underlying operating system. The vulnerability is due to insufficient input validation. An attacker could exploit this vulnerabi...
CVE-2020-3121
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-26
A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Small Business Smart and Managed Switches could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to conduct a cross-site scripting (XSS) attack against a user of the interface. The vulnerability is due to insufficient validation of user-supplie...
CVE-2020-3129
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-26
A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Unity Connection Software could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to perform a stored cross-site scripting (XSS) attack. The vulnerability is due to insufficient input validation by the web-based management interface. An attacker c...
CVE-2020-3131
PUBLISHED: 2020-01-26
[CVE-2020-3131_su] A vulnerability in the Cisco Webex Teams client for Windows could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to cause the client to crash, resulting in a denial of service (DoS) condition. The attacker needs a valid developer account to exploit this vulnerability. The vulnerability i...